Nicholls State (0-3) at (11) Memphis (1-1)
Saturday, November 23, 6 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Frank Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: FedExForum (18,400) -- Memphis. Tennessee. Television: Sport South. Home Record: Nicholls St. 0-0, Memphis 1-0. Away Record: Nicholls St. 0-3, Memphis 0-1. Neutral Record: Nicholls St. 0-0, Memphis 0-0. Conference Record: Nicholls St. 0-0, Memphis 0-0. Series Record: Memphis leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Nicholls State Colonels conclude their season-opening, four- game road trip this evening with a bout against the 11th-ranked Memphis Tigers.
Nicholls State has yet to put a tally in the win column here in 2013-14, losing each of its first three games by double digits. Lopsided setbacks at Auburn (76-54), North Texas (92-78) and Troy (77-62) will hopefully provide the team with motivation to improve in the weeks and months ahead, but the Colonels figure to struggle in this contest for sure. They will begin Southland Conference play in early January.
Memphis opened the season with a 95-69 rout of visiting Austin Peay, but then the team traveled to Oklahoma State earlier this week where it fell to the seventh-ranked Cowboys in a 101-80 final. The Tigers still have some tough games on the horizon prior to kicking off the inaugural season of American Athletic Conference games at USF on New Year's Eve, notably a pair of potential matchups against SEC foes LSU and Florida. They also have another tough non-league game slated for later in the season, vs. Gonzaga on Feb. 8, 2014.
Memphis won the only other meeting between these two teams, 92-72, back on Dec. 21, 1994.
Having failed to get over on an opponent in the first few weeks of the season, the Colonels are putting up only 64.7 ppg while allowing 81.7 ppg. They are shooting just 40 percent from the field, which includes a dismal 28.3 percent effort from 3-point range. They are also being outrebounded by 7.7 caroms per contest, but they are in the black with regard to turnover margin (+2.7). The team boasts only two double-digit scorers at the moment, as Dantrell Thomas tallies 16.3 ppg in hitting 51.5 percent of his total shots, while also coming up with 5.7 rpg. Jeremy Smith owns a line of 10.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per outing, and he is coming off a 13-point effort in the recent loss to Troy. Thomas paced the team with 14 points and eight boards in that clash, while Shane Rillieux chipped in 11 points in playing a game-high 37 minutes. Nicholls State made good on 42.1 percent of its field goal attempts, missing the mark on 11 of its 14 3-point tries. Troy shot 46.7 percent from the floor, but really won the game at the free-throw line where it claimed a 31-11 advantage.
Memphis has had very little trouble getting it going at the offensive end this season, netting 87.5 ppg thanks to a 47.4 percent shooting effort. The Tigers have been dreadful from 3-point range however, converting a mere 23.1 percent (6-of-26). As a result of the 101 points surrendered to Oklahoma State the last time out, their average yield on the season currently sits at 85.0 ppg. Nick King leads the team with 18.0 ppg, shooting a lofty 61.9 percent from the field, and he also grabs 6.5 of the team's massive 45.0 rpg. Three others average double figures in the scoring column, as Shaq Goodwin (11.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg), Joe Jackson (11.0 ppg, 3.5 apg) and Michael Dixon, Jr. (11.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg) have all been productive through the first two games. King hit for 23 points and tallied eight boards in the recent loss to the Cowboys, while Goodwin finished with 13 and seven, respectively. Unfortunately, the Tigers failed miserably in their effort from beyond the arc (2-of-13), while also losing track of OSU's Marcus Smart, who went off for 39 points.
Put simply, there is very little chance the Colonels are going to be able to keep this game competitive beyond the first few minutes, as the Tigers are clearly superior in just about every facet of the game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Memphis 85, Nicholls State 60
11/23 10:33:44 ET